This morning I went to the Remembrance Sunday Service at the West Ham Parish Church of All Saints. This is one of four "official" Remembrance events taking place today in Newham. The Revd Stennett Kirby took the service. It was as usual a touching and moving occasion.
This year Captain Ben Firth from our local West Ham Territorial Army Unit, 7th Rifles, spoke in full dress uniform from the pulpit.
Ben talked eloquently about his experiences in combat in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. In 2006 he went out aged 25 as an infantry platoon commander responsible for 30 men on a 6 month tour. Ben also spoke about the hardship and intensity of combat, of 9 hour long gun battles with the enemy, of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and the inevitable resulting casualties.
But he also talked about holding regular tribal meetings with local leaders, establishing trust, providing them with a generator to bring electricity and giving toys to local children. He said it is the winning of these battles of hearts and minds that actually makes serving our country so worth while.